THE BLACK WIDOW
Welcome to part 2 of my report on the Black Widow. Those of you who read part 1 of my report (and if you have not read it go back and do so because it is freakin’ awesome) know that I promised three parts to this report. Well you’re still getting it in three parts but I do feel that I made a mistake and owe you all an apology. Part 1 was a look at the new up-coming Black Widow movie. I then promised part 2 to her history and part 3 to be her origins. I got it wrong and I am sorry.
In my enthusiasm to speak about the new movie I did the parts of my report in the wrong order. In writing about the new movie I found myself having to go back and define certain aspects of her backstory. I would not have to have done this if I had done her origins first. I goofed! Now I already posted part 1 so there is no going back. However, I said part 2 was going to be her history and I am changing that. Today we’re going to look at the Black Widow’s origins and leave her history for the third and final part.
Part 2: ORIGINS
I apologize in advance for this rather convoluted and complicated origin story for the Black Widow. I didn’t create this I’m just reporting it. However, as I mentioned before in Part 1 of our report the Black Widow is a character whose history spans more than fifty years. That is fifty years of different writers, different artists, different editors and all of them wanting to add and delete aspects of the story. Things are bound to get messy but hey, that’s comic books!
Natasha Romanoff was born Natalia Alianovina Romanova in the Soviet Union. The exact year is unknown as well as her parents are unknown. It has been rumored that she is related to the Romanovs – the former rulers of Russia – but so far those rumors have never been proven.
At this point there are two versions of her story – which I suppose is appropriate for the woman who would grow up to arguably become the greatest spy in history.
There was a fire in a building in Stalingrad. Before dying in the fire a woman threw her baby girl out the window to a soldier who was passing by. That soldier Ivan Petrovitch than raised the baby Natasha.
Some time later she was abducted by Baron Von Strucker and presented to the Hand – the ninja clan that would later play such an important part in the histories of Daredevil and Electra. She was supposed to become their Master Assassin except she was rescued by Captain America, Logan (Wolverine), and Petrovitch.
During World War II she served in the army where she fell in love with another soldier named Nikolai. It did not go well as Nikolai was killed in the war and the baby girl they conceived did not survive birth.
Following World War II, Natasha went into the Black Widow Program where young girls were indoctrinated to become sleeper agents. Trained at the Red Room facility (a Cold War program to train and equip the deadliest female spies in the world) she was also enhanced by the Soviet version of the Super-Soldier Serum – the formula that created Captain America. The Super-Soldier Serum granted her peak human strength and stamina, as well as resistance to disease and slowed down aging. She has memories of studying to be a ballerina at this time but her psyche was tampered with by her superiors so it is unclear if these are real memories or implanted ones.
After acquiring custody of Natasha, Ivan Petrovitch takes her to Department X (the Soviet Union’s program for creating super-soldiers) where she and 28 other girls are placed in the Black Widow Ops program and given Red Room training. She also receives bio-technological and psycho-technological enhancements – which explains her physical perfection and non-aging. In this version she never trains for the ballet and those memories are definitely implanted.
Apparently her trainers were going to “discard” Natasha. I suppose discard meant eliminate. Except that the Asgardian Enchantress – the long-time foe of Thor – decided to get involved for no other reason than she felt like it. She mystically suggested to Natasha that she escape. The Enchantress herself prevented her from actually escaping but the attempt was enough to convince her trainers that she had value and she was not discarded.
VERSIONS ONE AND TWO CONVERGE
At this point the two versions converge. It was arranged for Natasha to marry Alexei Shostakov – a renowned test pilot. The KGB decided that the skill set of Natasha and Alexei would make them superb special operatives. Natasha was told that her husband had died in a rocket crash. In reality he had been chosen to become the Red Guardian – the Soviet counterpart to Captain America. Natasha was then trained by the Winter Soldier – Bucky Barnes the former sidekick of Captain America who had lost an arm, become a cyborg super-soldier, and was brainwashed into becoming the Soviet’s number one assassin. Now you try saying that ten times fast. The two of them also became lovers. It was at the point where she first became known as the Black Widow.
I’m going to leave her origins at this point. Natasha is now known as the Black Widow and this is the end of her backstory. From this point on she makes her first appearance in the Marvel Universe and that will be covered next time in her history.
Once again I must bid a fond adieu to all of you. Until next time buckaroos. Up, up and away!